Personnel: Heather McEntire (vocals, percussion, background vocals); Jenks Miller (guitar, electric piano, organ, Mellotron, percussion); Daniel Hart (strings); Matt Douglas (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Jeb Bishop (trombone); Casey Toll (piano, organ, upright bass, bass guitar, percussion); Terry Lonergan (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Jenks Miller; Brian Paulson.
Recording information: Arbor Ridge; Les Acres Mystical; The Chateau; Wizkid Sound.
If Heather McEntire were a woman who lacked artistic principles, she'd move to Nashville, land a record deal, and likely become rich and famous. McEntire has one of the clearest and most expressive voices in indie rock, sounding like a young Dolly Parton with a tougher attitude but just as much talent. McEntire could be a star if she were willing to let someone else call the shots. Instead, with Mount Moriah, she settles for making strong, expressive music that speaks from her heart, soul, and conscience. On Mount Moriah's third album, 2016's How to Dance, McEntire's voice is a glorious match for the band's spare but expressive roots-influenced indie rock. Jenks Miller's guitar work is lean but articulate, anchoring and embellishing the melodies with a wise selection of single-note leads. Casey Toll's basslines are strong without being showy, and the keyboards and percussion from Miller and Toll do wonders to put muscle on the melodic frameworks. (Matt Douglas' sax also deserves a mention, lending a subtle soul undertow to the songs.) How to Dance comes from a place of emotional authenticity, and Mount Moriah sound perceptive and compassionate on these songs of misfits and lost souls. At its best, How to Dance suggests the work of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section backing a poet with a heartfelt need to make the world a better place. It doesn't hurt that the poet happens to have an outstanding voice and a commitment to her work, and How to Dance is a quietly remarkable work from a group that can make modesty and excellence coexist. ~ Mark Deming